Ask-the-Expert Online Conference
- Question from Mimi55: I heard that there is a new scan available for women with dense breasts. It uses a radioactive tracer, I believe. Can you give us more information on this, and is reasonable to ask for this instead of my yearly MRI?
Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., F.A.C.S.
The scan that you're asking about is the PEM scan, the PET scan for the breast as I had previously mentioned. The tracer is a radioactive tracer that is injected, and then the breast is scanned to try to detect very early cancers and also evaluate for multiple areas of cancer in the same breast.
At this point in time the PEM is available at certain radiology facilities, but it has not yet replaced the MRI. There are going to be studies in the very near future that will help us to determine whether PEM has the ability to replace other studies, or if it will be used in addition to mammography, ultrasound, and MRI to help to give us a clearer picture of exactly what is happening within the breast tissue. Biopsy of an abnormal area is still the gold standard by which we practice medicine. Therefore, abnormal areas on studies such as MRIs and PEMs would need to have a confirmatory biopsy to prove that they are truly cancer.
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